HomeWord - Mar. 19, 2008


Revenge is Sweet? 
This devotional was written by Leslie Snyder

Joseph prepared his chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father.  As soon as Joseph arrived, he embraced his father and wept on his shoulder for a long time.
Genesis 46:29

Then Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had accompanied him to his father’s funeral.  But now that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers became afraid.  “Now Joseph will pay us back for all the evil we did to him,” they said…But as Joseph told them, “Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God, to judge and punish you?  As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil. 
Genesis 50:14-19

If ever a real life drama begged to be on the big screen, it is the one of Joseph and his brothers.  This riveting human account is filled with jealousy, pride, arrogance, a murder plot, lies, seduction, and the unexpected elements of reconciliation and forgiveness.  Most would prefer a good dose of revenge, and in all truth, Joseph had some pretty valid reasons for seeking retribution.  After all, the list of injustices against him included things like:

  • He was thrown into a pit by jealous brothers  
  • He was sold into slavery by his brothers  
  • He served as a slave in Potiphar’s house  
  • He was unjustly accused of raping Potiphar’s wife  
  • He was imprisoned for many years  

Revenge could easily have been high on his list of actions, especially with the level of power he eventually gained when he became second in command of all Egypt.  The power to destroy those who caused him so much pain was at his fingertips.  Joseph, however, chose forgiveness.

Imagine with me, then, the scene where Joseph and his father are reunited for the first time in over 20 years.  It must have been one of the most emotional scenes in the entire Bible.  A father and son, reunited when all hope had been lost.  What do you think the brothers were experiencing at this moment?  Guilt?  Shame?  Fear?  Hopelessness?  Perhaps a little of each?  What must have run through their minds?  What would run through yours?

Imagine another scene, after Joseph’s father Jacob had died and the brothers are at the mercy of Joseph.  Scripture clearly tells us they were afraid that Joseph would back down from his promise to treat them well.  They were clearly expecting some significant consequences.  Instead they received grace.

While revenge may seem sweet for the moment, the truth is, revenge perpetuates the cycle of evil.  Grace and forgiveness demolish it.  Take a look at the hurts and pains in your own life.  How will you respond?

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Revenge is easy.  Forgiveness is tough.  Revenge is cowardly. Forgiveness is courageous. Which path will you choose?

Romans 12:19; James 1:2-3

Leslie Snyder is a youth and family ministry veteran currently serving in the Kansas City area with her husband and three kids.

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